Fertility issues are not widely discussed – in society or the workplace – and relatively few organisations have policies or guidance in place to support people having treatment. Just over a quarter (27%) of the 2,023 employers we surveyed have either a standalone policy or include provision as part of a wider policy. The CIPD wants to help bridge this gap by encouraging organisations to view fertility as an important workplace wellbeing issue and by providing practical guidance about the support employers can put in place.

It can be a long and uncertain road for employees experiencing difficulties conceiving, trying to have or grow a family. It is often emotionally draining, socially challenging and financially tough. There can be significant impacts on mental and physical health. Managing these impacts alongside employment can be extremely difficult without an understanding employer. Given that the majority of people wanting to start or grow a family are of working age, it’s safe to assume that it’s typically people who are in employment who are affected.

Building on our research findings, this guide will help people professionals develop effective support for employees experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment. It aims to provide knowledge and practical guidance to help employers and people professionals develop ‘fertility friendly’ organisations.

Purpose, aims and principles of this guide

Why are fertility challenges, investigations and treatment a workplace issue?

“It is possibly the hardest thing I’ve been through and trying to do it with very limited support from your employer is impossible. It’s had long-term effects on me both mentally and financially.” Respondent to CIPD employee survey

Create an open, inclusive and supportive culture

Promoting wellbeing and inclusion in the workplace is an important aspect of good people management – it’s about valuing and supporting everyone as an individual. Those experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment should feel supported and included in their working environments. We need to normalise the conversation about fertility issues in the workplace, so that people can access support when they need it. This kind of culture can have far-reaching benefits in supporting employees through many different and challenging life events.

Develop a framework to support employees

Developing a framework to support employees with fertility challenges, investigations and treatment demonstrates a commitment to employee wellbeing and EDI. It can also encourage more people to talk about it if they want to, seek support and remain productive at work. People professionals are ideally placed to develop a proactive framework to support people. They have the strategic oversight to understand which policies are relevant or need to be developed, the current organisation culture and the work needed to develop it, as well as the ability to ensure that effective support is in place.

Manage absence and leave with compassion and flexibility

Promote good people management


This guide is written by Annette Sinclair, Research Consultant, with input from Rachel Suff and Dr Jill Miller (PhD), Senior Policy Advisers, CIPD. The legal section was written by Helen Burgess, employment partner at Gateley Legal.

CIPD fertility journey policy

A downloadable copy of the CIPD’s own fertility journey policy.
PDF document 101.7 KB

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